Athletes’ Teeth in Trouble

BY ANDREYA GROZIK

After perusing several articles with fitting and humorous titles such as “Your Teeth Are Probably Better Than An Olympian’s” and “Energy Drinks Help Athletes Go for Gold Fillings,” it’s evident that dental health is often a problem for athletes. Since it’s such an important component of overall health, it’s worth examining the cause.

A likely culprit is frequent use of sports drinks. Most sports drinks are loaded with sugar and citric acid, which can cause tooth decay and damage tooth enamel. Dr. Tony Clough, a leader in dentistry, confirms this, having witnessed athletes “refueling with teeth-eroding acidic sugary drinks.”

According to Paul Piccininni, an expert in sport dentistry, “The oral health of athletes is worse than the oral health of the general population. Considerably worse.”

Studies have shown just how serious this problem is. One such study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, reveals that Olympic athletes have such poor oral health that it impacts their performance: 28% of athletes said their poor oral health affected their quality of life and 18% said it had an impact on their training and performance. The authors of the study state:

The association that we found between caries [tooth decay] and well-being and performance might be explained by the experience of pain and interference with eating, drinking, and sleep due to the caries. Previous studies of younger populations have found similar impacts of caries on life quality. Caries risk and disease levels have repeatedly been found to be high in athletes.

Dr. Anne Twomey says, “Tooth decay is always caused by sugar.” She says people are often not aware of how much sugar they are drinking in their sports drinks and protein shakes—that these drinks “can contain anything from five to a dozen teaspoons of sugar. We’ve even come across one drink which contained 14 teaspoons of sugar.”

Sugary drinks and beverages with citric acid are destined to cause dental damage. Even worse are the sports drinks that contain an insidious combination of the two. Hammer Nutrition’s HEED is sugar-free and citric acid free. With HEED, you will not get tooth decay or damage to your tooth enamel, but you will get energy, electrolytes, and hydration.

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